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State makes 1,000 extra campsites available for solar eclipse; try for yours Wednesday

Total Solar Eclipse Stock Photo: Luc Viatour / CC BY-SA 3.0

After filling all its original campsites in 90 minutes, Oregon State Parks says it is opened up 1,000 additional spots in parks along the path of this year's total solar eclipse.

"That was the signal to us (that) this is really going to be a big thing," said Chris Havel, with Oregon State Parks. "They went so quickly we knew we had to do a little more."

The moon will completely block the sun Aug. 21. The moon's shadow will create a 60-mile wide path of totality that will start on the Oregon coast between Newport and Lincoln City and sweep across the United States to South Carolina.

Explore the path of totality with this NASA animation:

The majority of the additional camping sites in Oregon will be what's called "dry camping," meaning there won't be any running water.

"(People should) get an idea of whether you can do dry camping, because you've got to be pretty self-contained," Havel said.

You can try to reserve a spot starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday, April 19, by going to oregonstateparks.org or reserveamerica.com. You can also call the reservation line at 800-452-5687.

Dave Taylor walks along the trails at Champoeg State Park nearly every day. He witnessed a solar eclipse when he was a boy in Minnesota. He still remembers it vividly.

"You could see as the sun starts to rise there was a bite out of it, and the sky was starting to get dark," Taylor said. "Then you could see the shadow coming at you, and it was like a freight train -- fast and just wham. It hit you and then it was totally black."

Taylor didn't know the solar eclipse would be moving through Oregon in August and says he feels lucky he'll be able to see it a second time.

"It's a wonderful experience; it's worth going out of your way for," Taylor said. "I certainly wouldn't spend 1,000 dollars for a hotel and all that kind of stuff, but since it's so close I might definitely go out of my way."

Lady Hill Winery is across the street from Champoeg State Park. Founder Elaine Owen is excited at the large crowds the solar eclipse will bring in, and plans on offering celebratory libations to campers at the sold-out state park.

"I don't know if we've got our nerve up yet, but we may host an overnight too," Owen said.

Information on the eclipse from OMSI here.

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